RFID is an advanced technology leading to significant developments and great changes in the structure of many organizations. Over a short period of time, RFID has found many applications in such systems as library managements and great cultural centers around the world.
The need for greater security, improved flexibility, possibility of online search, and precise functional information has led to a new idea for managing libraries and RFID has transformed this idea into reality.
In addition to being cost effective, these systems have low cost of maintenance, do not require direct sight line, and can be used in cultural environments. They require relatively small investment. All these advantages have led to rapid growth of RFID application into the context of libraries.
RFID can be used to control entrance and exit of library items, internal management, security, facilitating operations for users and employees, automatic delivery and return of books and other items in the library. Online collection of information and high speed are among the essential features of this system.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) system enables libraries to incorporate the features of this system into the management of their library items. Users then receive automatic services and this prevents backlog and similar problems.
The library personnel will have greater time to service the users and redundancies will be eliminated in delivery or returning books or other items. The system is equipped with internal control which is highly sensitive to any item taken out from the library and will inform employees of such events.
The automatic lending system allows the users to borrow books without needing help from the employees. These automatic stations are similar to those used in large supermarkets where customers have to place all the items they buy in front of a barcode scanner and then proceed to the next step. But in RFID system, the reader can detect a pile of books which form a column as tall as 25 cm. The technology can greatly speed up the book delivery process, thereby increasing user satisfaction.
Another advantage of the RFID system is its ability to scan 10 books on shelves per second. This helps creating an inventory in a short time; a process which is very time-consuming if traditional systems are used. In addition, the manual (hand held) reader can be used to find books that are placed somewhere outside their respective shelves. Advantages of the system include
- - High efficiency in protecting resources
- - Qualitative development of staff and promoting their positions to managing and directing members
- - Enhancing productivity in provision of library services
- - Facilitating inventory control in archives and finding missing documents
- - Reducing the time required for borrowing, renewal, and returning documents
- - Eliminating repeated works and redundancies from description of employees’ roles
- - Eliminating queues at circulation desks
- - Improving quality and quantity of library services
- - Enhancing user satisfaction
- - Reducing costs of human resources
- - Offering better services to customers
- - Improved management of library, operations, and customers
- - Real-time control of library items
- - Reducing the time needed for lending/returning books and finding misplaced books
- - High level of security
- - Potentials for further extension based on the standard equipment
- - Reducing the time in lending/returning books
- - Greater access to library items
- - Online cancelling previously borrowed items
- - Using advanced technology for improving library services
- - Real-time access to members’ borrowing information
Radio frequency identification means identification using radio waves. In this system, an electronic tag is used instead of attaching labels on items. This electronic tag can be used to store information about the item and to wirelessly transfer this information to nearby detectors within a range of few meters.
RFID systems have three main components: tag, reader, and middleware.
A tag is an identification device attached to the item. Reader is a device which detects and read data from the tag. Reader can inform another system of the presence of the tag. The hardware used as an interface between reader and the system is often called middleware.
RFID is based on special standards usually classified into two major groups:
- - Passive systems
- - Active systems
RFID System Components
A tag is in fact an electronic ID used to store information about a book. It contains an electronic chip and a small radio antenna which stores a code and a unit number. A part of the memory besides this code is assigned to users. A book is actually given an electronic ID when a tag is attached to it.
Several considerations must be taken into account when selecting tags:
- - Required reading range
- - Formation of RFID tags
- - The standard used for tags
- - Writability: some tags can be rewritten with new data
- - Support for multiple standards: some tags can support one or more standards.
Reader is responsible for sending/receiving data to/from tags in order to obtain information. Readers are either portable or fixed. A reader is used to detect the presence of the tag. Reader sends/receive information to/from tag through radio waves. The reader may have several antennas for receiving these waves. It sends waves using the antenna. An antenna in the vicinity of a code reader receives these waves while the tag converts this energy to electrical energy which is sufficient to supply the small chips contained in the tag.
Choosing a reader largely depends on the selected tag. Some readers can only read particular types of tags. Readers used at libraries are either fixed or portable. Fixed readers are installed at the circulation desks or placed at entrance/exit gates. Portable (hand held) readers are used to record inventory or find missing books.
Unlike barcodes, tags are read through the following ways:
- - Book cover
- - Circulation desk (without direct connection or using moving readers)
- - Using several readers simultaneously
- - Within a few centimeters from the antenna
- - At any direction from the antenna and reader
Library Intelligent Management System Using RFID Technology
The system consists of several components:
It is very easy to tag new books or those previously barcoded because the tags can be easily placed on the books as labels. In libraries equipped with RFID system, all data should be obtained by reading the tags and then recorded in the databank. In the systems equipped with barcodes, the same databank can be used but the tags must match the data contained in the databank. The data is kept at the main databank of the library.
Self Check in/Out
Self check in/out makes it possible to deliver multiple library items, such as books, films, tapes, etc., through automatic lending stations or customer service stations. These stations are very easy to use and customers can easily obtain required information by reading the instructions placed beside these stations.
The kiosk which looks like an information booth is equipped with a touch interface for users and is based on a program which facilitates working for users.
A desk reader is placed on the check out booth. Users are required to place their selected books on the reader for identification. A card reader is also used to identify users by their membership cards and record the data about the book and the date of check out. Fingerprint scanners can also be used upon user’s request for greater security. A printer desk is available next to this station which prints a receipt for users.
The procedure for using this system is as follows: the user selects a book and then places it on the reader tray. She then puts her membership card on the card reader and confirms the operation using the touchpad and the check out menu. Information about the user and the books along with the date are recorded in the database and stored on the membership card as well. Since a fixed reader is used as the protection gate at the entrance/exit door the system sends the information to reader in order to produce alarms when an unauthorized book is about to be taken out.
Protection Gate (3D)
As noted earlier, the gate consists of fixed readers which provide a gallery with a minimum width of 1.5 m for users to walk in/out. The gate can detect all tags passing through this path and produces an alarm when authorization has not been issued. The system can also be connected to a video recording apparatus in order to record images when prompted. In addition, the protection gate can count the number of check in/out and provide accurate statistics.
A library can be manager automatically or manually. Automatic control is based on databank of the library or data received from the RFID tags while manual control relies on hand held readers.
Using a hand held reader it is rather easy to create an inventory of the properties held at a library. In addition, the device can be utilized to find missing items. The software system can be programmed so that the reader only looks for these items, read their data, and inform the operator.
Shelf management system easily identifies and places library items and facilitates the job of library employees. It has been designed to carry out three main functions: search for particular items, creating inventory, and search for shelves with misplaced items.
- - Easy inventory recording without any need for moving items
- - Non-invasive nature for users in creating inventory
- - Reducing human error during inventory building process
- - Prompt identification of missing items
- - Enabling/disabling tags on items within the shortest time
RFID Intelligent Card
In order to borrow library items, the customer gives his membership card to a librarian who selects the borrowing function from the library program and then scans the card. The librarian then places the items selected by the customer on the reader screen. All tags are identified and the information is sent to management server. Once the operation is confirmed by the management server, the protection status for these items is disabled and a checkout permit is issued along with a receipt which contains time and date of borrowing as well as the due date for returning the books.